The predicament of patients

A little excerpt from the Executive Summary of the Francis Report (the public inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust):

In some instances, such an argument betrays a failure to appreciate the impact on patients and those close to them, of the deficiency in question. It is the institutional equivalent of the tolerance of poor care all too frequently seen and not challenged on some wards at the Trust. The fact that it might be typical of what happened elsewhere is cause for increased concern not reassurance. It is an argument which evidences a culture of habituation and passivity in the face of issues which may indicate real suffering. It is an attitude which would be unlikely to be persisted in if those adopting it were constantly to place an empathy for the predicament of patients at the forefront of their mind

(Emphasis mine)

Here’s an awesome example of good design process; seeing the other fella’s point of view. This is what I’m always banging on about. This. Just this. I’ll be following this one to see what other solutions Pete came up with. As he says, some days it will be brilliant and others not so much … but I suspect there’s still a lot of learning to be found on the ‘off’ days as well.

And how do we translate this to what we do? Local government officers can’t just wander about pretending to be normal people, obviously. That would be silly. I mean, it would be just completely ridiculous for them to spend a day working at the library, or try calling the contact centre with a query. I mean, really? What a foolish concept. We are far too busy creating failure demand doing our jobs to waste time finding out how it feels to be on the receiving end of our way of working.

Except we’re not, are we. We have time to do this, and a lot of my colleagues actually do this willingly and in their own time, applying the lessons to their work day as they go. I’m talking about local government employees who also work in the third sector. School governors. Preschool committees. Charity trustees. Sports club coaches. There are hundreds of us across Devon County Council alone, and who knows how many more in district councils, the police and fire service and all our other public sector partners. I keep encountering them, we get chatting after meetings or over coffee and we share stories of successes and failures, high and low points.

I know you’re out there …

We were asked to come up with new council-of-the-future models to share with our leadership team next week; my contribution was this post in which I talked about the Fund Me function. After consideration, I now want to change this. Small third sector bodies may need money, sure, but that’s not the most helpful thing we can do for them. The best support we can offer is our time, our experience, our specialised skills and our network of contacts. We can help them tap into what, to them, looks like a shadowy league of sinister puppet masters. I’m not even kidding. Until you have worked in a small charity with no other public sector links, you have no idea how negative, how obstructive, how vindictive we are assumed to be. This makes me angry. Firstly, because I know that’s not who we are. Secondly, because I have no way of proving it because although that’s not who we are, that is how we frequently act.

We can do better.

I have a plan. I talked about the work we needed to do at either end of the Action Van concept – listening first, supporting and connecting afterwards. You might have wondered at the time just how we were going to achieve this, as busy as we all are already? Well here’s the secret: we’re already doing it. All over the county, at every level in the third sector and at every level inside the council, we are already involved and listening and supporting and helping. We already know this stuff. All we need to do now is join up the people who know what’s needed with the people who know how to move it along.

Technically, of course, I could totally already do this through email or bumping into people at work. But somehow that falls a little short. I might be aware of someone who can help but not know them well enough to spam them or importune them by the azaleas. And there are many others out there that I would like to reach but don’t know at all yet. So I’m going to use Yammer, which has been taken up by many colleagues across all work bases and levels, to shout out and connect.

We have everything we need – lets put it together and talk about how it feels and what we can do better. Instead of “Fund Me”, let’s implement “Know Me”*.

*Coming soon to Yammer … Just as soon as I think of a cool group name. All suggestions gratefully received.


About jargonaut

Unashamed geek lost in policy land. Frequently required to believe three impossible things before breakfast, and implement them by tea time.
This entry was posted in Engagement, Future Landscape, Organisational Development and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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